Violent crime in Mali is infrequent, but petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and simple theft, are common in urban areas. Passports and wallets should be closely guarded when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. Individuals are advised against traveling on the Bamako-Dakar railroad and should be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance from their victims. There are sporadic reports of nighttime robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups, and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
Violent criminal activity does occasionally occur in Bamako. During and after the coup d’état in March 2012, violent attacks and looting were reported around Bamako. Violent attacks were also reported prior to the coup, most occurring south of the Niger River in the neighborhood of Badalabougou. Most reported attacks took place at night. The majority targeted unaccompanied individuals and ranged from muggings at gun- or knife-point to physical assaults. Many of the attacks occurred near the residences of the victims, both inside and outside of their vehicles.
Sporadic banditry and random carjackings have historically plagued Mali's vast northern desert region and its borders with Mauritania and Niger. While banditry has not targeted U.S. citizens specifically, such acts of violence cannot be predicted. The current instability in the north has increased the risk of carjacking, kidnapping, and banditry. In November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from their hotel rooms in Hombori, one of whom was reportedly beheaded in early 2013. The following day, one German was killed while a Dutch citizen, a Swedish citizen, and a South African were kidnapped in Timbuktu. In April 2012, a Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu and seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Gao. In November 2012, a French national was kidnapped near the town of Kayes, close to the Senegalese/Mauritanian border.
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